Archive for March, 2018

PELT Blog # 6

March 2, 2018

Tour Summary!

What a fabulous roller coaster the PELT tour was! I’m still digesting everything that happened on it & it took me a while to get back into day to day life. Having planned the tour for so long in advance with Right Tempo, when these things come & go, it’s always a little hard to let go for a while, especially if it’s your own project & music, but what amazing fun we had!

bristol dressing room

It began officially with rehearsals on Jan 23rd at ‘The Premises’ on Hackney Road, London. This rehearsal studio has lots of great memories for me as it was the studio all the jazz musicians used through the 90’s and they still do as well as musicians from all kinds of genres. The café has always been a place to run into old muso friends & catch up on the gossip & nothing has changed there! I also recorded & mixed my first album ‘Aililiu’ there when it was owned by Colin & my good friend Dill. After the initial excited greetings we got set up & stuck into the music.




Straight away the music felt good & we had thoroughly gone through all of the material by the end. We had only ever played the music live once before, on the album launch gig at the Pizza Express, Dean St, Soho in December 2016. We also had the amazing Steve Hamilton joining us from Scotland on piano as Liam Noble, who had played on the album, was touring with his own band. Steve instantly slotted in & it was a great pleasure to get to know him better as the tour progressed & as with all great musicians, to hear him bring his own personality to the music more and more as we went along. I had worked with Steve many years ago in the band ‘Lammas’ so it was a wonderful reunion for me. The rest of the line-up was as the record, with Gareth Lockrane, Phil Robson, Kate Shortt, Richard Jones, Dave Whitford & Simon Lea. What monsters they all are, in the best possible way of course! I wanted the tour to be an opportunity for the music to grow & develop further from the original recording & I could already hear that this would happen naturally with all these incredibly creative & sensitive players. Our friend, the great young alto sax player, Rachael Cohen also came along to the studio to get some pics & video clips for our social media pages, which was so kind of her. Anne Rigg from ‘Right Tempo agency’ & PELT tour project manager was sorting out all the travel logistics with the band & giving lots of support as always. Some of us went for a Turkish meal after the rehearsal in Stoke Newington where another friend, Liz Roth, from NYC (my US agent & also agent for ‘The Gloaming’  ) who was also in town taking a vacation, joined us for that. (Liz later came to our gigs in Exeter, London & Gateshead as part of her trip!) I lived in the N16 area for many years before moving to Margate & always go straight for the Turkish food when I’m there! It’s one of the many things the area is renowned for.

The tour the began the following day with 4 gigs in the South West (Bridport, Calstock, Torrington & Exeter). I’ve always loved this part of the country so it was really nice to be down there. I enjoyed all of the gigs & the music really grew a lot throughout this block of concerts.


A particular highlight was Exeter Phoenix when Paul Muldoon joined us to read. Paul has enormous stage presence when he reads & a lovely aspect of this was him reading some poems over a bluesy musical backdrop set up by Phil, Dave, Richard & Kate & this was a pleasure to see. We saw lots of sights such as on a beautiful walk we had in Torrington & seeing the river Tamar in Calstock etc & were put up by lovely people in Bridport, Calstock & Torrington. Most of us stayed in a hotel in Exeter where we toasted Richard Jones who was turning 30 the next day!

On Jan 31st the band went into the BBC Maidavale studio to record a broadcast for ‘Jazz Line Up. Dave was ill so we had the great Oli Hayhurst step in at the very last moment! Oli did a heroic job, especially considering he had never heard or played the music! Thanks so much to him. The session went very well & it was great to see presenter (& pianist extraordinaire) Julian Joseph & producer Sushil Dade. We actually recorded 9 tunes for the show so we were very happy to get it all done in an afternoon. I was interviewed too as part of it.


The next gig section involved more traveling around as the shows were in Southampton, Derby, London & Gateshead. My good friend Eva Salzman the poet joined us in both Southampton & London to read. She too read a couple of poems over a musical backdrop & she was fabulous at this. As a trained dancer, she has a great rhythmic sense so it had an almost rap like quality. Eva is from Brooklyn but lived in London for many years & is now backwards & forwards between the two. The band was soaring up & up in musical gears with each gig and we really enjoyed them all. Turner Sims in Southampton is a lovely venue to play as is DEDA in Derby which is a studio theatre. Phil & Gareth’s parents came to the Derby gig & we always get a great reception there being Phil’s home town. Gareth is from Leek which is not too far away. We had a wonderful concert & turn out in King’s Place London, at which lots of close friends attended so that was a brilliant night all round.

Christine by Monika

Pic from Kings Place by Monika S. Jakubowska

We also got a fabulous review from the gig in London Jazz News.

The next day most of us got the train up to Gateshead apart from Dave & Simon who drove as they had to get back after the gig. It’s a long trip by car but fairly pleasant by train! The Sage is a wonderful venue & it was great to be there again. The people who came really loved it & the atmosphere was great. The North East is another one of my favorite parts of England as the people are always so welcoming.


The final leg of the tour was in Cardiff, Bristol, Nottingham & Birmingham. In Cardiff, we played at the Royal Welsh College of Music where we also did a workshop for students in the afternoon as well as the gig at night.

Cardiff stageband pic

It was wonderful to hear & meet all the young musicians there. Also present was the great pianist/composer & dear friend Huw Warren. Huw played in various projects of mine over the years, most recently doing my new arrangements of Leonard Cohen songs called ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’. The concert went well. This was the first time the whole band had stopped over in the hotel so we had great fun grabbing a bite & seeing the night sights of Cardiff after the show. You can see the meerkats below putting in an order!

cardiff bar

Bristol was next in the great Colston Hall Lantern venue. Myself & Phil stopped into BBC Bristol radio on the way to play a quick tune & do an interview with Claire Cavanagh which was fun. At Colston Hall we had a support band called The Duval Project who were a great jazz funk band & we had a really nice audience for our show. The Bonnington theatre in Nottingham is a venue which holds great memories as I’ve played there a lot so it’s always a pleasure to play there & see everyone. We had a day off after Nottingham so myself & Phil stayed at Phil’s Dad’s place in Derby & had a great day with his parents.

We’d come to the final gig! I was very sad about this but also wanted to give it my all. The CBSO centre is another fab place to play & the whole band enjoyed the concert very much as did the audience. It was nice to see some good friends there. After the show, we didn’t want it all to end so we stuck around for a while talking to pals before making the trip back to London and I said my fond goodbyes to all of the musicians except for Kate who we had arranged to see the following night. I felt exhausted & exhilarated at the same time! The tour had been a really informative process musically. With each performance, the music took on a magical depth because of the intensifying chemistry between us all & because we were able to plough further & further into the compositions every night & strengthen our musical relationships. With a larger block of gigs like this, a band develops a musical trust & empathy with each other & the material, which is hard to attain in normal one-off gig circumstances. Each concert had it’s own truly unique moments.


Thanks so much to my incredible band who played amazingly throughout the entire tour & did so with the utmost professionalism & good humour. We had so many laughs!

Thanks to all the promoters who put the gigs on. Without you all the jazz & wider music scene in the UK would be a considerably poorer place & I really admire your dedication to live music which is the greatest thing in the world!

Thanks also to the Arts Council of England who made it possible to take such a large ensemble out on the road in difficult times. May they always continue to support Jazz and other creative musical projects.

Thanks to Riot Squad for doing such a great job with the publicity for the tour.

Thanks to all of the wonderful people who came out to see us, often in nasty weather & for supporting live music.

Thanks to Liz Roth for making us part of your vacation! It was great to see you there.

Finally the biggest thanks go to Anne Rigg of who was both the agent & project manager of the tour. She did an incredible job of coordinating all the elements of the tour such as accommodation, travel, contracts & so much more & her positivity & belief in the music is so inspiring & highly valued by me & all the band. It couldn’t have even begun without you!


I’m now beginning to think hard about my next project & great things have already come about as a result of doing the PELT tour. Please watch this space!!!